Intercom Ventures, LLC v. FasTV, Inc., 2013 WL 2357621 (N.D. Ill. May 28, 2013) (full-text).
Factual Background Edit
Plaintiff provides Internet protocol television (Internet Protocol TV) — a digital TV service distributing TV programming by sending coded digital transmissions over the Internet — to Bosnian speaking consumers in the United States. It has exclusive rights to distribute TV programming produced by certain TV channels and contract periods. It receives these rights from the originators who create, develop, and produce the TV programming outside of the United States.
FasTV provides its subscribers with programming by downloads from its website directly to television receiving equipment located at subscribers' household. FasTV is a competitor to Plaintiff in distribution of Bosnian language TV programming to which plaintiff holds exclusive rights. Since August 2011, FasTV had no authorization from Intercom or the originators to offer or distribute the programming.
District Court Proceedings Edit
Plaintiff brought suit against alleging direct copyright infringement by FasTV for distributing, without authorization, the Programming plaintiff obtained exclusive rights to. Plaintiff mentioned numerous defendants in the complaint alleging that they materially contributed to FasTV's copyright infringement by facilitating, managing, or directing the distribution.
Defendants filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The court indicated that plaintiff has properly stated a claim for direct copyright infringement because it alleges that it owns the exclusive rights to distribute the Programming pursuant to licenses issued by the originators, and further, plaintiff alleges to be holding these rights pursuant to contracts it entered with the providers of the Channels. Moreover, plaintiff set forth the details of the method of direct copyright infringement. The court noted that plaintiff must only satisfy the pleadings requirements under Rule 8 and need not plead with heightened specificity.
Next, the court looked to determine whether plaintiff has properly stated a claim for contributory copyright infringement against other defendants mentioned in the complaint. The court explained that contributory copyright infringement occurs where a defendant "with knowledge of the infringing activity, induces, causes, or materially contributes to the infringing product of another." The court found that plaintiff met all the elements for contributory copyright infringement. First, it alleged sufficient facts to show direct infringement by a primary infringer, furthermore, plaintiff alleged a basis for each defendant's knowledge and the method their contribution to the infringing activity. Thus, the court found that plaintiff did state a plausible claim for contributory copyright infringement.
Defendant further argued that plaintiff's claim does not comply with Rule 10(b) because it gathers together separate transactions or occurrences thus, as the rules requires, plaintiff did not limit its claims "as practicable to a single set of circumstances." Defendant suggested that plaintiff alleged separate counts for each claim against each defendant. The court explained that the reason behind this rule is to give defendant "fair notice of the claims against them and the grounds supporting the claims." For dismissal the complaint must be so unintelligible that defendant cannot be reasonably on notice of plaintiff's claims. The court held that plaintiff's complaint set forth allegations that were common to all claims and was nowhere close to being unintelligible. Further, it was followed by sections that set forth facts pertinent to each of plaintiff's claims. Therefore, the court denied defendant’s motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 10(b).